Indiana CMEP to host world premiere showing of Middle East peace documentary

Press release from the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace:

Indiana CMEP to host world premiere showing of Middle East peace documentary

(September 26, 2010) – “Little Town of Bethlehem” will have one of its world premiere showings on the IPFW Campus on Oct. 5 at 6:30 pm.

The film is sponsored locally by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace (IndianaCMEP) with assistance from the Peace Studies Program at IPFW. Admission is free.

The location of the movie is IPFW Liberal Arts Building LA159. This is building # 6 on the campus map at https://new.ipfw.edu.

Ethnographic Media’s “Little Town of Bethlehem” is a documentary which follows the story of three men of three different faiths and their lives in Israel and Palestine.

Featured are two Palestinians, Christian Sami Awad and Muslim Ahmad Al-Azzeh, and one Israeli Jew, Yonatan Shapira, who use nonviolence to resolve conflict and work for peace in their countries.

The story explores each man’s choice of nonviolent action amidst a culture of overwhelming violence. The film examines the struggle to promote equality through nonviolent engagement in the midst of incredible violence that has dehumanized all sides.

Sami’s story begins as a young boy living in the Israeli occupied West Bank; Yonatan’s starts on an Israeli military base; and Ahmad’s begins in a Palestinian refugee camp. Their three stories are interwoven through the major events of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, starting with the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics and following through the first Intifada, suicide bombings in Israel, the Oslo Accords, the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, and the second Intifada.

Sami, Yonatan, and Ahmad each describe the events from their unique perspective, interjecting personal reflections and explaining how these events led them to become involved in the nonviolence movement.

In Bethlehem, the city where it is said that God became man, Sami just wants to be seen as human. First learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a teen, he began lecturing about nonviolence in high school. Later, Sami traveled to India to learn more about Gandhi. As the result of his discoveries, he founded the organization Holy Land Trust to promote nonviolence in the Palestinian community.

Yonatan embraced his father’s legacy as a pilot in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and fulfilled his own dream of becoming an IDF helicopter pilot. However, his journey led him to the decision to join with 26 other IDF pilots who publicly refused to participate in missions that would lead to civilian casualties. Co-founding the organization Combatants for Peace, made up of former Israeli and Palestinian combatants, Yonatan struggles to reconcile his love for his country with his growing opposition to the Israeli occupation.

After studying in Spain, Ahmad returned to Bethlehem to become a nonviolence trainer. Despite the daily challenges of living in a refugee camp, Ahmad remains committed to his community and risks his life and livelihood in nonviolent actions to bring an end to oppression.

For their work, Sami and Ahmad have been labeled as “Israeli collaborators” by some within the Palestinian community, and are seen as a threat to security by the Israeli military. By refusing to participate in offensive military actions against Palestinian civilians, Yonatan has been branded a traitor by some Israelis and can no longer work in his home land.

All three men have had their lives threatened by members of their own communities as a result of their work. Sami, Yonatan, and Ahmad continue to embrace their common humanity and equality for all, daring to have the hope that peace in the Holy Land can be achieved through nonviolent struggle.

Following the approximately 90 minute film, a discussion will be led by Shaher Ghazi, a Palestinian Muslim working in Fort Wayne, Rev. Brian Flory, Pastor, Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, and Dr. Stephen Alan Carr, IPFW Communications Professor and past Fellow at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC

The movie is also available for showing to local organizations by contacting Dr. Michael Spath, Indiana CMEP board president.

EthnoGraphic Media (EGM) is an educational non-profit (501c3) collective of artists and filmmakers with experience in every form of filmmaking: documentaries, features, motion graphic animations, short films, and even music videos featuring award-winning writer and director Jim Hanon.

According to their web site, “EGM films all share a common thread of ordinary people finding themselves compelled to lead extraordinary lives, often amid suffering and strife. The stories we find are global in nature, and not because we have gone to the ends of the earth to produce them.

“For us, global are the human moments that resonate with people no matter their race, creed, or country of origin. The notions of forgiveness, equality, and self-discovery are universal. They transcend culture and language.

“Our primary audience is 18- to 25-years old. Connectedness, purposefulness, and autonomy serve as core values. These are young people with the technology and desire to enter into larger discussions of what it will take to achieve healing and wholeness.”

The Indiana CMEP program for originally scheduled for October 9 on Darfur as been cancelled due to scheduling conflicts for featured speaker Ron Capps.

The mission of ICMEP is “to promote awareness, dialogue and just solutions in the Middle East and in its relationship with America”. Through programs and travel, the organization, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, works toward Middle East Peace and the education of Americans about the Middle East including topics in politics, religion, health, and the arts.

The organization web site is www.indianacmep.org. The website also links to a recommended book list as well as maps and newspaper articles from various sources.

Photos and comments about past and upcoming events can be found on the group’s Facebook page.

Official Little Town of Bethlehem website

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